In the first study of its kind, researchers analyzed 11 years of data from non-diabetic breast cancer patients, with surprising results.
The women who fasted less than 13 hours per night showed a 36 percent increase in breast cancer recurrence compared to those who fasted for 13 or more hours per night.
In other words, going at least 13 hours between between dinner and breakfast is associated with a lower risk of cancer.
The study looked at daily sleep and dietary habits, serum blood sugar and inflammation markers (hemoglobin A1c and C-reactive protein), and the recurrence of cancer and breast tumors.
Longer fasting for better sleep and less disease risk
The study showed that each two-hour increase in fasting time made for longer nights of sleep. This is important not only because it helps people feel better, but also because it points to a healthier sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm. An imbalanced circadian rhythm increases cancer risk, including breast cancer, along with numerous other chronic diseases.
Each two-hour increase in fasting time also reduced blood sugar and systemic inflammation, hence lowering the risk of diabetes and other diseases.
The longer nighttime fasters showed significantly lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a protein made in the liver that increases with inflammation. Chronic inflammation leads to serious diseases, including heart disease, some forms of cancer, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.
Got low blood sugar or adrenal fatigue? Then a bedtime snack may be appropriate
While the new research makes a strong case for extended nighttime fasting, long fasts may be detrimental to those with low blood sugar or adrenal fatigue.
In these cases, allowing blood sugar to drop too low through fasting can cause a series of negative hormonal consequences that result in insomnia, mood issues, fatigue, and poor brain function.
If you wake up anxious at 3 or 4 a.m., you may be a victim of low blood sugar and need to eat a little protein to fall back asleep. Eating a little bit before bed can also help prevent those all-too-early wakeup calls. You also need to follow a diet during the day that stabilizes blood sugar.
Eating a healthy blood sugar diet over time may help you stabilize your blood sugar to the point that you can comfortably adopt the extended nighttime fast.
A simple, non-medical strategy for reducing cancer and disease risk
These findings suggest that simply extending the time between dinner and breakfast to at least 13 hours may be a simple, non-medical strategy to reduce the risk of breast cancer and chronic disease.
If you have questions or concerns about nighttime fasting, sleep habits, blood sugar balancing, or disease prevention, please contact my office.
Watch for our new program in October "Doc Talks". I will be doing a presentation on Intermittent Fasting. My presentation will go into more depth and give you various options on how and when to do your own Intermittent Fasting.